Teams respond swiftly to malware attack on vendor

By | July 31, 2017
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Man and woman at computer desk, wearing headphones and looking at monitors.

(Chris Hedly)

When Michigan Medicine’s telephone dictation and transcription service provider was impacted by a global malware cyberattack, teams from Health Information Technology & Services (HITS) and Health Information Management (HIM) acted swiftly to ensure the service was disabled, no patient information was compromised, and alternative solutions were provided.

“Many staff played a role in the response to the dictation outage,” said Jeff Desmond, M.D., chief medical officer at Michigan Medicine. “Their rapid response, prioritization of potential solutions, remarkably rapid expansion of Dragon and creativity in putting into place alternate options for those dependent on dictation allowed us to maintain operations and support patient care.”

Michigan Medicine’s dictation service is provided by Nuance, an external vendor, and is used by clinicians to dictate medical notes over the phone, which are then transcribed into patient’s electronic health records. At the time of the incident, Nuance’s system was the most widely used dictation/transcription service by Michigan Medicine providers.

HITS and HIM were able to equip every provider with access to Dragon Speech Recognition, a real-time speech-to-text dictation system. Dragon microphones were quickly distributed to providers, along with training information and support, ensuring clinicians had an effective means to dictate their notes.

“I am impressed and proud of the way our teams worked with others throughout the organization to respond to this outage,” said Andrew Rosenberg, M.D., interim chief information officer at Michigan Medicine. “We appreciate the work our staff do every day—especially with urgent issues and in times of crisis.”

Nuance’s phone transcription/dictation services were restored on July 18 and all backlogged dictations from the cyberattack were transcribed into the appropriate records.

HITS will continue to offer additional transcription/dictation services and encourages providers to adopt Dragon Speech Recognition software as a primary dictation service.